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There’s an odd schizophrenia in Dershowitz’s broadside on Carter at Gather.com. On the one hand, he is absolutely brutal in attacking Carter, calling him some horrible things and
making some very serious implications. On the other, he fondly reminisces about
supporting Carter for president and mentions more than once Carter’s admirable work in so many human rights and social aid and justice arenas.
But Dershowitz pulls no punches in building his “case” that Carter wrote his book because he is on the payroll of wealthy Arabs.
Dershowitz documents very little of his claims. Where he does, he primarily draws from two articles. One comes from the notorious right-wing web site, FrontpageMag.com, set up by David Horowitz. This site has a well-known reputation for half-truths and outright falsehoods, to which I and many of my colleagues can personally testify (for instance, they described me as “a former 60’s Berkeley radical”. I was three years old when the 60s ended, and didn’t set foot in Berkeley until late 1985. The lies about both myself and JVP only begin there, and they get much more vicious as the article continues).
The other citation is from another notorious right-wing source, albeit one with a somewhat better reputation, the Washington Times. But there is precious little direct sourcing in either of these articles either (none at all in the FrontpageMag one). Dershowitz would never consider entering a courtroom with “evidence” like this.
For most of us, the stories of big money deals glaze our eyes, and the claim of massive Arab funders is what comes through loud and clear. But it’s important to examine Dershowitz’s allegations, so let’s do so, briefly.
Carter and his associates in the 1970s were swept up in a major scandal around the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), a Pakistani bank that went global and was a center of major controversy. Carter’s advisor and close associate Burt Lance was particularly involved. And from this, in part, Dershowitz draws his allegation of Carter’s support of terrorism, as BCCI was indeed involved in funding terrorism. And one of the leading figures involved in that aspect of the story was none other than Marc Rich.
Rich was a major international commodities trader who was indicted for tax evasion and for trading illegally with Iran during the hostage crisis. He was pardoned by Bill Clinton under a storm of controversy, which included an appeal from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak for Clinton to issue the pardon, as Rich had been a strong supporter of Israel. An affidavit had Rich accompanying the key figure in the BCCI terrorism scandal, Samir Najmeddin, on every trip he took to the bank. Najmeddin was alleged to have been the person who funneled money through BCCI to purchase weapons for the Abu Nidal terrorist group. It makes at least as much sense to call Rich (a Belgian-born Jew who fled the Nazis in 1942, and an active supporter of Israeli policies over the years) an anti-Semite on this basis as it does to use this against Carter.
Dershowitz also makes great hay over Carter’s receipt of money from the former ruler of of the United Arab Emirates. The Center he ran was closed down because of the very real anti-Semitism that was sometimes generated there, especially after 9/11. But speakers that same center included not only Carter, but Bill Clinton, Al Gore, James Baker, Jacques Chirac and others.
Carter got this money from Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan many years ago. Al Nahyan was a world leader who was often praised by many other leaders. He was one of the more popular Arab leaders. The Center named for him did indeed produce some anti-Semitic materials and hosted some anti-Semitic speakers, along with the notable leaders named above. Al Nahyan himself, does not have such a history and the Center which bore his name was closed down because of these well-founded allegations.
One might say that Carter would have been well-advised to give the money back, as Harvard Divinity School did. His not doing so, however, does not brand him an anti-Semite.
Reading Dershowitz’s allegations with a critical eye reveals that he is talking about international finance, an arena where monies change hands and flow from one place to another and where, inevitably, many of the characters are going to have considerable dirt under their fingernails. Yet even at that, while throwing dollar amounts in seven figures make most people’s eyes pop wide open, the actual amounts discussed are hardly enough to have the kind of influence on Carter that Dershowitz suggests.
Just about all of the money Dershowitz refers to goes to the Carter Center, not Carter, and, given the Center’s assets at the end of 2005 were around $375 million, it is highly doubtful that Carter is dutifully obeying his Arab masters, or is, as Dershowitz also speculated, simply blinded by the dollars in his view of Israel and Palestine.
Carter himself recently stated that Saudi money over the years was under 3% of the Center’s budget.
Dershowitz would have us believe that in the context of that kind of operating budget, a few million here or there is enough to get a wealthy man like Carter to write a book for no reason other than to harm Israel and the Jews. Again, it is Dershowitz’s skill in making a preposterous premise believable that should be credited, not the points he is trying to make. Put simply, the level of funding Dershowitz references is hardly enough to significantly Carter’s actions or views. But it is certainly enough for Dershowitz to use to slander Carter.
Sorry, Alan, it was an honest opinion, based on first-hand observation of the effects of occupation on both Palestinians and Israelis.